Essentialism and the diasporic native informant

Malaysia in Hsu Ming Teo's love and vertigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hsu Ming Teo's (2000) novel Love and Vertigo oscillates between three countries, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. Though Teo is seen to be affiliated with Malaysia, and certainly appraised as articulating her ethnic history with clarity of creative and artistic skill, the image of Malaysia that she shapes come to the fore as a remembered reality, through the glimpses caught from the morsels of both memory and filial visits to this estranged home/ancestral land. The most significant issue that resides at the heart of such writings is the repudiation of the Chinese community by the Malays in Malaysia. The images of Malaysia in the novel are fleeting, yet when they do appear they seem to be the most macabre amongst the spectres of the past that haunt the main protagonist, Grace. This article discusses the almost ghostly role that Malaysia plays in the novel and argues that the cultural memory of the older country lies entombed with the ghost of the 1969 racial riots. It concludes that when writings by diasporic native informants such as Teo and others around the globe are taken to be authentic renditions of ethnic heritage as part of multicultural politics in the cosmopolitan, the implications of these are highly serious as they are largely constructions of decidedly essentialist discourses of the older country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalGEMA Online Journal of Language Studies
Volume10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Fingerprint

Malaysia
love
collective memory
Singapore
Essentialism
Ming
Informants
Vertigo
politics
discourse
history
community

Keywords

  • Diaspora
  • Ethnicity
  • Malaysian Chinese
  • Multiculturalism
  • Native informant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

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